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Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC)

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101 Two Letter Words
101 Two Letter Words
by Stephin Merritt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.74
44 used & new from CDN$ 8.62

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 28 2014
This review is from: 101 Two Letter Words (Hardcover)
When songwriter and Scrabble aficionado Stephin Merriit couldn't remember all the strategic, two-letter words allowed in the game, he made up poems. "101 Two Letter Words" emerged as a collection of these sly, silly rhymes that reach absurdity when paired with illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.

Merritt's charming, fanciful entries include the esoteric "os," brought to life by an animated landscape: “Os: a spine of gravel dropped / by long-gone giggly glaciers / playing in their sandbox, leaving / scribbles and erasures.” The Scrabble dictionary also includes "oi," the Scottish “ae” (meaning one), the Egyptian “ba” (representing the soul) and “bi” (for bisexual). Adding further interest, Merritt sometimes works with the unexpected meaning of a word as when he defines "go" as: "a subtle game of skill, / with stones of black and white."

Throughout, Chast captures the mood with her characteristically unkempt humans and animals, ultimately rendering this compendium humourous first, educational second.

Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious
Eat More Better: How to Make Every Bite More Delicious
by Dan Pashman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.99
43 used & new from CDN$ 2.30

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 23 2014
Dan Pashman, creator of food podcast "The Sporkful," will eat almost anything but only following unique specifications to achieve his high personal standard. He writes, “My friends who have known me for a long time know that I will always start rebuilding any sandwich and rearranging it." Indeed, "Eat More Better" engagingly combines math and science to analyze the intricacies of everyday meals: how much sauce various types of pasta will hold, the proper way to layer a sandwich to prevent slippage and the ideal way to pour milk into cereal.

Both witty and logical, Pashman's recommendations really will revolutionize readers' eating habits. He argues that one should serve grilled cheese vertically on its end instead of flat on a plate. It looks odd but it prevents soggy bread caused by condensation created when the hot sandwich touches the cold dish. Pashman also advocates for eating cupcakes upside down because the frosting tastes more pronounced closer to your tongue. In the same vein, putting cheese under the patty of a burger instead of on top will accentuate its flavour.

Arranged like a high-school science textbook with diagrams, pull-out sections, and fun facts, "Eat More Better" both entertains and informs, providing ingenious advice while never taking itself too seriously.

Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
by Jon J Muth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.43
38 used & new from CDN$ 7.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Oct. 22 2014
In a word: magical. With the help of his playful panda, Koo, Caldecott Honouree Jon Muth presents 26 moments through the seasons. He employs haiku, the poetic equivalent of a snapshot, as well as delicate watercolour illustrations to brilliantly capture the essence of nature.

Though light in tone and appealing to young readers, Muth's poetry deserves serious parsing. Deftly manipulating white space, the author adheres to haiku’s three-line form rather than its traditional five-seven-five syllabic sequence. “Autumn, / are you dreaming / of new clothes?” reads the text as Koo reaches up to catch a handful of falling leaves. More humorously, spring announces the end of cabin fever: “too much TV this winter / my eyes are square / let’s go Out and play.”

Children and adults will delight in the effect of condensed poetic images coupled with spare illustration.

Food: A Love Story
Food: A Love Story
by Jim Gaffigan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.03
49 used & new from CDN$ 8.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 22 2014
This review is from: Food: A Love Story (Hardcover)
Anyone familiar with the comedic voice of Jim Gaffigan knows it revolves around food. In his second book, "Food: A Love Story," Gaffigan gives an exhaustive view of his food knowledge, researched mostly, he quips, by eating a lot. Indeed, the book reads like Gaffigan's greatest hits, including riffs on produce, doughnuts, seafood and, most famously, hot pockets. Unlike his debut, "Dad is fat," this book steers away from his personal life save a few small glimpses into the routines of a touring comedian. This approach results in some repeated material and die-hard Gaffigan fans might face disappointment upon realizing they can already recite entire passages from the book.

Nevertheless, Gaffigan provides more here than a few chuckles. He maps out the entire USA and labels each region by its specialty: The northeast becomes “Seabugland” for its love of seafood; much of the Midwest is “Superbowl Sunday Foodland.” He calls New Orleans “Food Anxietyland” because all its unique culinary choices cause Gaffigan to feel angst-ridden. Further, he offers witty musings about most major fast-food places: how can White Castle legally stay open during daylight hours? Why must everything on the Domino's menu be a carb? How clean can those plastic gloves the employees at Subway wear can possibly stay seeing as they never take them off.

Gaffigan recognizes America's obesity problem but he still wants to love his food, which for him means no vegetables (especially no kale) and a steady diet of pizza, cheeseburgers, French fries and other coma-inducing delights. With so much talk about artery-clogging fare, readers may find they enjoy Gaffigan most in small doses as opposed to ingesting all 334 pages in a couple sittings.

101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: the Entertainment Solution For Parents, Relatives and Babysitters!
101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: the Entertainment Solution For Parents, Relatives and Babysitters!
by Holly Homer
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.76
44 used & new from CDN$ 9.02

5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 18 2014
Holly Homer and Rachel Miller, creators of the popular site,, have assembled a wonderful book with fun, creative ideas for keeping little ones busy. No need for TV or iPads: with this guide, kids can enjoy playing stimulating games and doing crafts with basic household materials.

Chapters include Boredom Busters, Games, Crafts and Simple Science; each activity within has a beautiful colour photo and clear instructions. The authors even provide modifications for older/younger children.

From Bird Zip Lines to Spray Bottle Freeze Tag and Melted Crayon Fabric Art, these activities will delight both kids and kids at heart. An essential addition to the shelves of every parent, grandparent or caregiver.

Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why It Matters
Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why It Matters
by Alfred Hermida
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 16.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 17 2014
University of British Columbia professor and former BBC News online editor Alfred Hermida believes that, rather than an addiction to social media, we have an addiction to each other. His new book, "Tell Everyone," examines how we gather and disseminate information about our fellow humans in the digital age and concludes that Facebook, Twitter and the like have empowered a wide swath of ordinary people and turned them into citizen journalists and consumers. Hermida comes across as a digital utopian, naively avowing that social media has made it possible to wrest power from the hands of both the government and corporate elites pursuing their own venal ends.

To begin, he provides a cursory survey of the psychology underpinning the way people share information online: stories that make us happy are more likely to go viral than those that make us sad, though anger and disgust also turn out to be strong motivators for what gets liked, retweeted, and otherwise passed around.

Unfortunately, Hermida’s arguments read as one-sided and limited in their scope; the author cherry-picks examples and ignores anything that undermines his own agenda. He insists on the importance of social media in elevating voices on the ground during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, neglecting more recent findings that said influence was overstated. He quotes poet and fellow digital evangelist John Perry Barlow, who wrote that people online should be free to “express [their] beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity,” but ignores the damaging way in which herd mentality operates online. Furthermore, he disregards the dark side of social-media conversations, which at worst can drive a bullied teen like Amanda Todd to suicide, arguing instead that people adding to comment threads “are driven by a desire to nourish relationships with others.”

Oversimplification and a refusal to acknowledge opposing views ultimately render Hermida's analysis incomplete and unconvincing.

How To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way
How To Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way
by Tim Seldin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.86
47 used & new from CDN$ 12.73

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 14 2014
Dozens of pictures of happy, focused children grace the pages of "How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way." Some show kids playing with simple, classic toys; others show young students learning and creating within thoughtfully organized, luminous classrooms. More well-behaved children dress themselves, prepare their own snacks and clear the table. Indeed, in his eye-catching book, Montessori Foundation president Tim Seldin offers guidance on bringing the principles of Montessori education into readers' homes.

The Montessori method emphasizes self-directed learning, practical life skills, and observation leading to adaptation. Environment also plays an important role, with natural materials promoting learning and a calm mind. But even parents who do not have kids enrolled in a Montessori school can learn much from this book. Simple activities such as creating a treasure basket of objects that appeal to different senses will promote exploration and interaction. Others suggest ways to incorporate math and reading into everyday life. Further strategies can help with toilet training, cleaning up, sharing and tantrums.

With inspiring thoughts and practical tips, Seldin shares the Montessori vision of raising a thoughtful child who will connect with others and do good in the world. He offers a list of manners and how to teach them: through careful language and a positive approach. Throughout, the Montessori parent learns to return to the basics and raise an amazing child with patience, understanding, praise and respect.

The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night
The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night
by Peter Spier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.47
38 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Oct. 13 2014
The text of "The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night" comes from a wonderful old folk song telling of a fox who raids a farmer's goose house and brings home his kill. The playfully anthropomorphic tune describes the fox returning to his fully-furnished home before plucking and carving the goose to eat at the table with his wife and children.

Peter Spier's exquisitely detailed, charming drawings bring the story to dramatic life with alternately black-and-white and colored illustrations. As a read/sing a loud book, the story provides ample entertainment on its own but may also spark discussion of themes like stewardship, ownership and theft.

The book includes a musical score, making it that much easier to enjoy!

Good Morning, Canada
Good Morning, Canada
by Andrea Lynn Beck
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 12.63
2 used & new from CDN$ 12.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Oct. 13 2014
This review is from: Good Morning, Canada (Hardcover)
Andrea Lynn Beck has released an energetic companion to her previous picture book, "Goodnight, Canada." "Good Morning, Canada" follows a similar pattern as text and images combine to reflect each region of the country. The book bids good morning to canoes, Canada geese, toonies, Mounties and maple syrup and also highlights the variety of Canada's physical landscape.

The use of pencil crayons and paint on coloured paper lends warmth to the illustrations. The expressions on the children's faces show their happiness at facing a new day, giving a positive portrayal of what it means to experience childhood in Canada.

Reading this book aloud in a classroom would begin any day on an optimistic note. Young children will delight in pointing out the Canadian details on each page, leading to discussion about what each child sees out his/her window in the morning.

A Little Book About Safety
A Little Book About Safety
by Samantha Kurtzman-Counter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.22
27 used & new from CDN$ 7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Oct. 10 2014
How do we talk to our kids about personal safety without scaring them? The Mother Company has considered this question thoughtfully and has released the charming story of Hugo the Hippo, who navigates his way through a day at the pool with his family. All of Hugo's smart choices keep him strong, happy and safe, empowering children to believe they possess the skills to act as bosses of their own safety.

"A Little Book About Safety" uses relatable language and keeps kids engaged through its interactive nature. It includes “Safety Tips” that break up the storyline where so you can pause and have a discussion. The book also emphasizes the importance of having a “Safe Adult” to trust; every child has a different family situation and this terminology takes that into consideration.

From knowing a safe adult’s name and phone number to being confident saying NO to keeping “the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit" private, The Mother Company perfectly touches on difficult but important topics and gives children ownership of their choices.

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